Marc Wauters of Belgium won stage two of the Tour de France after a hotly contested sprint finish. In doing so the 32 year old also claimed the yellow jersey. Although today was the flattest stage of this year’s race, it became one of excitement as rider after rider tried to break away on the 218km race from Calais to Antwerp. Even veteran Johan Museeuw became wrapped up in the patriotic mood and put in his own attack.
However the real crunch came with less than 30km to go as a group of four riders went clear, the most notable being Credit Agricole’s Jens Voigt. However the Belgium contingent of the peleton wasn’t finished yet and Wauters and Eric Dekker (both Rabobank) attacked together. Another ten riders including Stuart O’Grady followed and soon the sixteen riders were together and clear from the pack.
With the peleton less than 30 seconds adrift in the final kilometre, Frenchman Armud Pretot of Festina made the first move and led the chase for the line. However Wauters stuck to the Frenchman’s back wheel and finally came around him to win by a bike length. The 32 year old and previous winner of the British Prutour, had started the day 15 seconds behind leader Christophe Moreau, but with a 20 second bonus for winning he claimed the race lead. Wauters is the first Belgian to wear the yellow jersey since Johan Bruynel in 1995.
Stage 2 Results. Calais-Antwerp.
1st Marc Wauters (Rabobank) 4h35m’47s
2nd Arnaud Pretot (Festina)
3rd Robert Hunter (Lampre)
4th Servais Knaven (Domo)
5th Stuart O’Grady (Credit Agricole)
6th Davide Bramati (Mapei)
7th Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto)
8th Ivan Basso (Fasso)
9th Marco Milesi (Domo)
10th Erik Dekker (Rabobank)all same time
Overall after stage two
1st Marc Wauters (Rabobank) 9h’40m’17s
2nd Stuart O’Grady (CA) at 12secs
3rd Servais Knaven (Domo) at 27secs
4th Christophe Moreau (Festina) at 27secs
5th Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) at 28secs
6th Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto) at 28secs
7th Robert Hunter (Lampre) at 29secs
8th Jens Voigt (CA) at 30secs
9th Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) at 30secs
10th Bobby Julich (CA) at 31secs
11th Lance Armstrong (USPS) at 31secs
12th Jan Ullrich (Telekom) at 34secs
186th David Millar (Cofidis) at 13m’17secs